Howdy-doodle! It has been very quiet on here the last week or two, hasn’t it? That’s because we’ve been up in Scotland on holiday – blog post and photos to follow later in the week – but it’s also because I’ve been recovering from the fun that was BritMums Live 2013.
One central London venue, 550 bloggers, a smattering of celebs and several conference sessions that provided free wine on the tables… talk about a surefire recipe for success.
This was my second year at BritMums Live. Last year, as a bit of a blogging newbie, I found it all completely overwhelming but this year I paced myself a bit better and had a brilliant time. Rather than doing a minute-by-minute rundown, I thought I’d share my ten highlights.
1. Keynote speech – Kirstie Allsopp. It was a really lovely surprise to enjoy this keynote as much as I did. A lot of the crafty bloggers got very excited when Kirstie was added to the BML agenda, but I have to admit I’ve always been a bit meh about her. Mums who juggle careers, do lots of crafty home-made stuff AND always look utterly gorgeous and glamorous intimidate me
a bit a lot, so I’d always assumed she’d be a bit up-herself and scary. I totally stand corrected. She was funny, down-to-earth and very entertaining. I didn’t grab her for a post-speech photo, but judging by the number of people who did she was very approachable too. Lovely stuff.
2. Keynote speech – Katie Piper. If Kirstie’s keynote was all lighthearted fun, Katie’s was a very different story. What an incredibly brave and inspirational woman. Katie – a former TV presenter and model – shared details of the journey she has been through since she survived a brutal acid attack in 2008, and she truly took my breath away with her strength and courage. To turn such a horrendous event into such a positive – through her work in setting up the Katie Piper Foundation – is a real testament to who she is as a person. Katie’s session was moving and humbling, and her words will stay with me a long time.
3. Hedwig. That beautiful owl up there is the ACTUAL Hedwig, from the ACTUAL Harry Potter films, and meeting him was one of the highlights of my weekend. Last year I don’t think I ventured into the Warner Brothers Lounge at all, but this year you couldn’t keep me away, because it was all about Harry Potter. I had a lesson in how to wave my wand around (stop giggling at the back…), sampled some of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans (the watermelon ones are luscious… black pepper and earthworm flavours not so much) and even laid my hands on the copy of Libatius Borage’s Advanced Potion Making that was used in the film. It was truly, erm, magic.
4. Brilliance in Blogging Awards. The BiBs took place on the Friday night, and they were hosted by the writer and comedian Viv Groskop, who was rocking some kind of glittery hotpant thing, and looked fabulous. I was chuffed to pieces to be a finalist in the Commentary category, and equally chuffed to be pipped to the post by Team Honk, who visited Ghana with Comic Relief earlier in the year and are *apparently* planning next year’s Secret Thing already. Hurrah for deserving winners, and commiserations to all the awesome finalists.
5. Blogging for Good. The panel discussion that I took part in was about bloggers working with charities, and I was sitting alongside Chris from Thinly Spread (above left), Rosie Childs from Save the Children (above right), and Michelle from Mummy from the Heart (not pictured and, frankly, Annie is doing a crap job of pretending to be her in that shot). The session took place in the main conference room, which was a bit big for our modest audience, but they were an informed and passionate group, with lots of intelligent questions, and I got through it without saying anything too silly, so I think that counts as a big success.
6. Community. Well now I have heard all these rumours of bitch and snark among parent bloggers, but I must be very lucky because I didn’t see any of it at BritMums Live this year. All I saw were a lot of hugs, a few tears, and a brilliantly supportive community providing many of its members with comfort and love. It made me proud to be a part of it.
7. Social Media Session. The much-anticipated session on managing your social media was definitely one of my conference highlights. Presented by the lovable, gin-swilling comedy duo that is Mummy Barrow and Mammasaurus, there was chocolate, there were giggles, and there was a very friendly former Blue Peter presenter sat within touching distance. So many wins for first thing on a Saturday morning.
8. Yes, yes that is my very own personalized Coke bottle. Almost as exciting as the owl.
9. Meeting people. I think one of the main reasons I was so overwhelmed at BritMums 2012 was that I didn’t actually know many folk. I’d been blogging for over a year, and was an avid reader of other people’s blogs, but not many of those friends in the computer had made the transition to real life friends, and when I was faced with 500 of them all at once, I didn’t know where to begin. This year, when I could put far more faces to names, was SO MUCH more fun. I shared a cab to the venue with Chris from Thinly Spread – someone who I’d been too nervous to even approach and say hello to twelve months ago. There then followed a two-day chat-fest. Some people I’ve now met several times – like Anya and Sarah, the lovely ladies above – and feel very comfortable with. Some people – Alice, Lizzie, Helen – I met for the first time and immediately liked. And of course there were loads – Aly, Jayne, Liz – I wish I’d had longer to speak to.
10. Being a grown up. I may have mentioned once or twice that I turned 30 earlier this year. I am proud to say that hitting that milestone has instilled a new sense of maturity in me. I was ridiculously sensible at BritMums this year. I wore comfy shoes instead of hurty heels. I went to bed well before midnight, after a decent but not indecent intake of alcohol, and I woke up hangover free. I had the confidence to speak to the brands I was interested in *waves a big hello at Parragon books* but didn’t go around scooping up freebies from all the stands for the hell of it. And I left a bit early so that I’d be home in time to pack for the 7am flight I had the next morning. Very, very sensible and grown up…
Although not so grown up that I didn’t make my tablemates pose for loser photos at the BiBs. Sorry ladies. Must try harder.